[by Clarissa Carradine]
The recipient of this year’s Rob Riley Memorial Prize for the top Indigenous student in WA is Claudia McDermott – who is also an alumni of the Follow The Dream program. Image: supplied
Claudia McDermott, former Follow the Dream student, is the worthy recipient of the 2019 Rob Riley Memorial Prize, presented by the Minister for Education Sue Ellery at Parliament House recently.
The Rob Riley Memorial Prize is named in honour of the late Aboriginal human rights advocate and is awarded to the highest performing Aboriginal student.
Claudia is receiving this top accolade as she achieved the highest ATAR score for Indigenous Students in WA Public Schools.
“It is such an honour to be awarded the Rob Riley Memorial Prize. It is proof that the stereotype of Aboriginal people not valuing education is completely false and I feel proud that I can help break that stereotype. I hope that this award inspires other Indigenous students to achieve academically and pursue their dream careers,” commented Claudia McDermott.
Rob Riley Memorial Prize for top Indigenous student in WA
Claudia has decided to defer for a year her direct-entry university place in medicine so she can enjoy a gap year before refocusing on her studies with a fresh, revitalised mindset in 2020. She is currently working at a professional equestrian competition yard in the UK that offers her the chance to work, train and learn "hands on" in an international stable. Before returning to Australia, Claudia will travel through Europe and Asia so she can explore new places, expand her horizons, and understand different cultures.
“In terms of my long-term career goals, I would like to achieve my Doctorate and then begin a residency. I’m currently interested in specialising in orthopaedic surgery, however as there’s so much yet to learn and experience I’m staying open-minded as to where my degree could take me. Ultimately I want to help people live happier and healthier lives,” said Claudia.
While at school, Claudia was a member of Follow The Dream, which is a national educational enrichment program for Indigenous students run by the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation. She was enrolled in the Mount Lawley Follow the Dream program, which is co-managed by the Foundation and the WA Department of Education, and proudly partnered by BHP.
She says that the Follow The Dream program supported her not only academically but also on an emotional basis:
“Follow the Dream is run by an absolutely amazing group of dedicated people. They gave me a sense of belonging and my only wish is that I had joined the program earlier. I cannot recommend Follow The Dream enough and I encourage students to get on board to take advantage of all the fantastic opportunities it provides.”
Claudia plans to use the monetary prize to support her academic studies in medicine and other educational endeavours
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